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The Carja in Shadow, more commonly referred to as the Shadow Carja, were a splinter tribe in Horizon Zero Dawn. The Shadow Carja were made up of Carja who wholeheartedly supported the former Sun-King Jiran's war against the other tribes, or those living in the area that fell under Shadow Carja control.

After Avad took the throne and put an end to the violence, these supporters broke off, claimed the citadel in Sunfall[1] – the far west of the known world – and renamed themselves the Carja in Shadow.



The Shadow Carja were originally members of the Carja tribe who were devout to Sun-King Jiran. However, with the king's increasingly mental instability and the progression of the Red Raids, a civil war broke out in Meridian, which resulted in Jiran's overthrow and death.

Jiran's loyalists, including his champion Helis, fled to Sunfall, which, aside from being the location of Jiran's summer palace, had long been in the care of Jiran's kestrels and the High Sun-Priest Lucent Bahavas. These loyalists deemed themselves the Carja in Shadow (although other tribes would refer to them as the "Shadow Carja"), and appointed Itamen, Jiran's youngest son and preferred heir, as their new Sun-King. However, as Itamen was still a child, he was merely a figurehead to legitimize the Shadow Carja's succession: all real power rested in the hands of Helis and Bahavas.

While the Shadow Carja wished to retake Meridian and oust the new Sun-King Avad, they were unable to muster the necessary forces to do so. Conversely, as Avad did not wish to submit the Carja to more conflict, let alone kill his innocent half-brother, he refused to take Sunfall by force. A ceasefire was implemented within a year, trapping the Shadow Carja in a bitter statemate they had little hope of winning.

Soon after, Sylens presented to the Shadow Carja an entity of high intelligence, HADES, as a being from their mythology, the Buried Shadow, and formed the Eclipse. With the being's influence, the Eclipse became adept with the Old Ones' technology, from Focuses to machines, and began planning to recapture Meridian.

Events of Horizon Zero Dawn


Two years into Avad's rule, the Shadow Carja maintained an impression of inactivity as the Eclipse mustered their power and resources for the retaking of Meridian. The factions would remain in a state of truce where no entity from respective party would make contact with each other or set foot in the others' territory, presumably with the exception of official business between the two governments. The surrounding geography made it impossible for them to grow their own food, and their progressively dwindling resources were directed towards the military. As a result, the Shadow Carja continued to exist as a failing society, with its people living in poverty and squalor, save for the elites. They would still practice sacrificial rites at the Sun-Ring and pay bounty hunters to hunt those that they saw as disloyal.

Losing Legitimacy

Unknown to the Shadow Carja, Meridian had an agent named Vanasha infiltrate Sunfall, with the goal of bringing Itamen and his mother Nasadi to Meridian (a place to which they were more than willing to escape). For two years, there was no progress. However, Vanasha's attention was averted to another case: Bahavas had placed a bounty on one of his generals, Uthid, when the latter had uncovered his culling of refugees. Vanasha turned to a stranger, Aloy, whom she correctly deduced as a potential ally to help Uthid escape and defect to Meridian. Aloy agreed and helped Uthid fight off the mercenaries sent after him. After a hard-fought battle at the Greenclimb, Uthid and Aloy emerged victorious, with Uthid killing Bahavas in retaliation.

Seeing the promise Aloy's skills could bring, Vanasha decided to include Aloy in the extraction of the royals, which she finally decided to pull off. In the panic caused by Bahavas's disappearance, the young prince and his mother were smuggled out of Sunfall. A series of difficult battles were fought to have both Itamen and Nasadi brought to Meridian, but the endeavor was ultimately successful, leaving the Shadow Carja with little reliable leadership other than its most fearsome military leader: Helis.

Battle of the Alight

The Shadow Carja would finally attempt to retake Meridian, although under a rather wasted cause since their ally and purveyor of war machines, HADES was interested in gaining the power to eliminate all life on Earth on the same battle. The Eclipse lost the battle as did HADES, with Helis falling to Aloy.

Events of Horizon Forbidden West

Fall of the Shadow

Following the Eclipse's defeat, the loss of HADES, its machines, and several of their most prominent figures had pushed the Shadow Carja to the brink. However, what ultimately pushed them over it was Sun-King Avad's offer of amnesty to the commoners living under the splinter tribe's oppressive rule, not holding any of them responsible for the crimes of their superiors. This caused most of said commoners to rise up and overthrow their remaining oppressors, after which they handed over Sunfall to Avad's rule, effectively dismantling the splinter tribe.


Despite the fall of the Shadow Carja, not all chose to return to the Sundom.

In wake of the dissolution, a small group of refugees calling themselves the Order of Twilight, led by Sun-Priest Savohar, turned down the offer to rejoin the Carja tribe and relocated to the Daunt, refusing to forgive Sun King Avad's crime of patricide. While encountering many struggles along the way, including dwindling resources and harassment by the local inhabitants, the refugees eventually managed to find a new home for themselves in the Oseram settlement of Chainscrape under the protection of Petra Forgewoman.



NPC Archetypes

  • Elite Shadow Archer*
  • Elite Shadow Cleaver*
  • Elite Shadow Heavy
  • Elite Shadow Sniper*
  • Merchant
  • Shadow Archer
  • Shadow Carja Crier
  • Shadow Carja Kestrel
  • Shadow Carja Noble
  • Shadow Carja Refugee
  • Shadow Carja Soldier
  • Shadow Heavy
  • Shadow Sniper
  • Shadow Soldier

*These archetypes exist within the game, but are unused

Battle Stats

Unit Type HP Attack Type Damage Additional Info
Shadow Soldier 150*/185 Light Attack 50 (up to x3 combo)
Strong Attack 120 (up to x2 combo)
Leaping Attack 150
Spin Attack 150
Double Spin Attack 150
Kick 100
Overhead Slam 150
Shadow Sniper 140 Fire Arrow

70 Projectile 10 Fire damage 15 Fire severity

  • Perception range is increased by 5m when idle or suspicious and 40m when engaged in combat.
Bash/Kick 100
Shadow Archer 150*/165 Precision Arrow 100
  • Only uses the Timed Grenade when in a suspicious state; fires at enemy's last known position.
Timed Grenade 250 Explosive Damage up to 1m radius, scaling to 125 at 5m
Bash/Kick 100
Shadow Heavy 400 Firestriker 20 Projectile damage, 120 Explosive damage per shot
  • Blocks light melee attacks after 1 attack instead of 2.
Bash/Kick 200
Elite Shadow Heavy 500 Firestriker 20 Projectile Damage
120 Explosive Damage per shot
  • Blocks light melee attacks after 1 attack instead of 2.
  • Takes reduced damage from explosives.
Bash/Kick 200

*Some soldiers in Robbing the Rich have lower base health.



  1. "Shadow Carja hardliners loyal to Itamen, pretender to the throne. The center point of this territory is Sunfall, the mountain fortress that acts as the insurgency's headquarters. A few western outposts are also under hardliner control and serve as bases for their forces"
    Horizon Zero Dawn Collector's Edition Guide, page 614
  2. According to Lucas Bolt's, of Guerilla, file name in his Horizon Zero Dawn - Desert Landscapes post
  3. Itamen's Shadow Captured